Athletics Magazine

Triathlon Safety Initiatives

By Lcreswell @athletesheart

Triathlon Safety Initiatives
In recent weeks, safety initiatives have been announced by two of the largest event producers in Triathlon--Rev3 Triathlon and Ironman.  I thought I'd review here what they've planned.
Rev3 Triathlon
Rev3 Triathlon has produced triathlon events throughout the United States since 2009 and is expanding their offerings in the area of adventure racing starting this year.
In an April 2nd press release, Rev3 announced that, due to fatalities in the swim portions of triathlons, they would be starting an initiative that focuses on water safety and athlete education.  Elements of the initiative include:
1.  Increased training for event staff
2.  Offering pre-event heart screenings
3.  Adding additional safety personnel to monitor the swim portion of the events
4.  Educational offerings for athletes.
As part of the program, professional triathlete, Malaiko Homo, will be writing a 4-part series on swim safety and best practices and offering pre-race swim clinics designed to help athletes of all abilities swim safer on race day.
The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) organizes and licences the Ironman brand triathlon events, including the Ironman Triathlon, Ironman 70.3 series, 5150 triathlon series, among others.
Last week, WTC announced a SwimSmart Initiative for its North American Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events in 2013.  Elements of the initiative include:
1.  Modified swim starts at selected races.  A variety of start methods will be tested for safety, logistical practicality, and athlete acceptance.
2.  Pre-race warm-ups, whenever possible
3.  Attention to extremes of water temperature, either cancelling or shortening races when the water temperature is <52f degrees="" or="">88F degrees
4.  Swim course additions:
   a.  Numbered course buoys to facilitate communication and rescues, if needed
   b.  Anchored resting rafts along the course
   c.  Increaesed professional swim course personnel
   d.  Additional rescue boats and other water craft
In addition, a second phase will provide educational offerings to athletes that focus on reducing anxiety during the swim portion; screening for potential health issues; pre-race training; and race week preparation.
My Thoughts
I'm pleased to see these two large event producers embrace athlete safety.  Their leadership in this area will undoubtedly help to set a higher standard.
Many of the elements of these initiatives are found in the recommendations from last year's USA Triathlon Fatality Incidents Study.  The entire set of recommendations for athletes, event organizers, and USA Triathlon itself are worthwhile reading for any triathlete.
I very much liked an article earlier this year at Slowtwitch, written by Dan Empfield, entitled Dare to Move.  In the article, Dan urges us to "do something" about the issue of triathlon-related fatalities.  The initiatives by Rev3 and WTC are what we need.

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